The 2016 United States Presidential Election was the 58th quadrennial presidential election in the U.S. that took place on November 8th, 2016. The two major candidates were former First Lady, Secretary of State and Democrat Senator Hillary Clinton, running with Tim Kaine, and Republican real estate mogul Donald Trump, running with Mike Pence. Donald Trump was elected as 45th president of the United States after defeating Hillary Clinton in electoral votes.
2016 Democratic Presidential Primary
The 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary is the preliminary round for the Democratic party to pick the candidate they wish to support for the 2016 general election. Online, most of the attention centered around the race has been focused on the conflict between candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders..
2016 Republican Presidential Primary
The 2016 Republican Presidential Primary is the preliminary round for the Republican party to decide which candidate they wish to support for the 2016 general election. It has gained much attention online, most notably for its inclusion of front runner Donald Trump.
On March 1st, 2016, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia held primaries and caucuses for the Democratic and Republican presidential nomination. Additional Republican caucuses were held in Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming and a Democratic caucus was held in American Samoa. That evening, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won seven states with a total of 417 delegates and rival Bernie Sanders won four states with a total of 230 delegates. In the Republican race, Donald Trump won seven states with 203 delegates, Ted Cruz won three states with 144 delegates and Marco Rubio won one state with 59 delegates. The following day, Jimmy Kimmel Live aired a "Lie Witness News" segment in which they ask people on the street if they voted in the primary (shown below).
Chris Christie Face
During Trump's victory speech in Florida, he was joined by former candidate and supporter Chris Christie. On Twitter, many mocked Christie's pained-looking facial expressions made during the speech (shown below).
Carl the Cuck and AIDS Skrillex
On March 11th, 2016, The Alex Jones YouTube channel posted a video titled “Anti-Trump Protesters Go Berserk!”, featuring a heated argument between Trump supporters and anti-Trump activists taking place outside of a Trump rally in St. Louis, Missouri. After the video began circulating on 4chan, two anti-Trump protesters were nicknamed "Carl the Cuck" and "AIDS Skrillex," and were widely mocked for their argument tactics, including the invocation of Godwin’s Law and discounting a Trump supporter’s arguments for being a “White male.”
On March 25th, 2016, Democratic primary presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made an appearance at a campaign rally held at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. During his speech, a brown house finch flew onto the stage, which immediately prompted cheers and laughters from the crowd (shown below). As Sanders, who seemed just as entertained by the unexpected intruder, tried to resume his speech, the bird approached the Vermont senator even closer by perching on his podium, triggering further excitement and bewilderment from his supporters in attendance, as well as many others online who witnessed the strange interruption via livecast.
On Wednesday, April 6th, Bernie Sanders stated in a speech that he believed that Hillary Clinton was unqualified to hold the office of president based on her previous decisions in fundraising, the Iraq War and other positions she had previously held. The hashtag #HillarySoQualified was launched by Clinton supporters to praise their candidate's experience, but was subsequently hijacked by Sanders supporters (shown below).
On May 4th, 2016, the hashtag #DropOutHillary began trending on social media after the Republican presidential primary candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich suspended their campaigns, with many supporters of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders calling for Clinton to do the same.
The Delegates, Donald
On May 11th, 2016, 4chan users began posting photoshops of United States Senator Ted Cruz along with a variety of internal monologue-style captions assertively demanding the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to “hand over” the delegates he had secured during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries.
John Miller Tapes
On May 13th, 2016, The Washington Post published an article titled “Donald Trump Masqueraded as Publicist to Brag About Himself,” which reported that the New York City real estate mogul had routinely pretended to be a publicist for himself under the names "John Miller"
and “John Barron” when speaking to the press, citing the accounts of journalists, his former aides and a 1990 audio recording of a phone conversation between People magazine reporter Sue Carswell and John Miller, a man identifying himself as Trump’s publicist that the newspaper had obtained.
Star of David Tweet Controversy
On July 2nd, 2016, Trump tweeted an anti-Hillary Clinton poster featuring an image of a blue hexagram, clearly resembling the Jewish Star of David (✡), with the caption reading “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever” and set to the background image of a pile of $100 bills (shown below). The post quickly prompted a firestorm of social media backlash from his critics and Clinton’s supporters, many of whom blasted the Republican presidential candidate for promoting anti-Semitic imagery.
Following Clinton’s Democratic primary election victories held on June 7th, 2016, many news media outlets reported that she had become the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee. On social media, many former Sanders supporters announced their support of rival Hillary Clinton along with the hashtag "#GirlIGuessImWithHer."
On June 25th, 2016, The Wall Street Journal released poll results reporting that Hillary Clinton held a 17-point lead among women over Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election. That day, the @Bakedalaska Twitter feed shared a photo of a young woman wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat with the hashtag #TrumpGirlsBreakTheInternet. Within four days, the tweet gained over 3,000 likes and 1,000 retweets.
On July 12th, 2016, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders formally endorsed rival Hillary Clinton for president against Republican candidate Donald Trump in the upcoming general election. That day, political news blogger Harlan Hill launched the #DemExit social media hashtag, encouraging Bernie Sanders supporters to leave the Democratic Party in protest of Clinton’s nomination in the 2016 United States presidential election.
Clinton's Instagram Raid
On July 16th, iFunny user iCarlyFetish submitted an image announcing a raid against Hillary Clinton’s Instagram page, encouraging viewers to comment the phrase "Spicy Boy" on uploaded images. The following day, a 4chan user submitted a post urging viewers to “go on Hillary’s Instagram and spam Spicy Boy.” In the coming days, many of Clinton's Instagram posts were spammed with the phrase.
Republican National Convention
Stephen Colbert's Takeover Stunt
On July 17th, the day before the Republican National Convention, YouTuber Tom Cahill uploaded a video of Stephen Colbert taking the main stage at the Quicken Loans Arena to mockingly announce the beginning of the “2016 Republican National Committee Hungry for Power Games” in character of Caesar Flickerman, the emcee of the eponymous game in the _Hunger Games _ film series.
Only a few hours into the three-day convention on July 18th, chaos erupted on the floor when anti-Trump delegates and supporters of the #NeverTrump movement began calling for a roll call vote (by individual count) instead of a voice vote (by verbal response) on a proposed change to the convention rules, which would “unbind the delegates” from the results of the primaries and allow them to vote on their own judgment calls, opening up the possibility of Trump getting blocked from being nominated in the first ballot. By the time the convention’s rules committee denied the motion for a roll-call vote on the grounds of insufficient signatures, which was caused by the last-minute withdrawal of three out of nine state delegation that had backed the method, the floor turned into loud exchanges of shouting between the supporters of Trump and his opposition; the Colorado delegation walked out in protest.
On July 18th, 2016, Melania Trump delivered a speech in support of her husband’s candidacy for president at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Following the speech, many accused her of plagiarizing portions of Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech, with some internet users mocking her with the satirical hashtag #FamousMelaniaTrumpQuotes. The following day, Ben Carson delivered a speech that attempted to link Hillary Clinton to Lucifer by bringing up that Clinton wrote her senior thesis on community organizer Saul Alinsky. On July 20th, Ted Cruz conspicuously failed to endorse Donald Trump in a speech where he implored Republicans to “vote their conscience.” The crowd erupted in boos and chants of “Trump!” The next morning, Cruz defended his speech by telling the Texas delegation “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and father.”
During the 2016 Republican National Convention in late July, several news sites reported that "Hillary for Prison" movement had gained significant traction among attendees. On July 20th, Republican Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie performed a mock prosecution against Clinton at the convention, in which he listed various alleged offenses and asked the crowd if she was “guilty, or not guilty."
On July 21st, 2016, Clinton’s Facebook and Twitter pages announced the launch of #TrumpYourself, a web application hosted on Hillary Clinton’s official campaign site. Within the hour of its launch, #TrumpYourself quickly grew traction on Facebook and Twitter, causing the site to crash temporarily.
Democratic National Committee Email Leak
On July 22nd, 2016, Wikileaks published a collection of nearly 20,000 e-mails exchanged among key staff members within the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the governing body of the United States Democratic Party, as well as unofficial correspondences with members of the press, between January 2015 and May 2016. Among other findings, the leaked emails detail how several officials within the DNC, which is supposed to remain neutral during the primary electoral process, had attempted to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in order to secure the victory of Hillary Clinton.
Democratic National Convention
Crying Bernie Sanders Supporters
On July 25th, 2016, supporters of former 2016 Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders were filmed and photographed crying during his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That day, screen caps of the crying convention attendees were widely circulated on social media, often accompanied by humorous captions (shown below).
On July 26th, 2016, the Democratic National Convention YouTube channel uploaded an a cappella cover of the song starring various celebrities singing in support of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (shown below). Within one week, the video gained over 1.6 million views and 14,300 comments, with upwards of 30,800 dislikes and 28,100 likes. Online, many mocked the music video for being cheesy and cringeworthy.
Howard Dean's "Scream" Reenactment
The same day, Howard Dean made an onstage appearance at the convention, where he reenacted the infamous speech he had given at a post-caucus rally event in Des Moines, Iowa during his primary campaign in 2004, which instantly pleased the crowd on the floor with laughters and cheers.
Khizr Khan's Speech
On July 28th, 2016, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, Pakistani-born Americans and the parents of American war veteran Captain Humayun Khan, made a special appearance at the Democratic National Convention to deliver a speech in honor of their son, who was killed in action by a car bomb during Operation Iraqi Freedom in June 2004. During the speech, Khizr also criticized Donald Trump for his proposed ban on Muslim immigration and questioned the Republican presidential nominee’s understanding of the United States Constitution. In an interview with ABC News, Trump questioned if Khan's wife Ghazala “was allowed to have anything to say” and claimed to have made “sacrifices” for the United States with his businesses and charity work. In the coming days, Trump was widely condemned by political opponents for his statements about Khan, which many derided as being disrespectful toward the Gold Star Khan family.
Clinton's React to Balloons
On July 28th, 2016, the final day of the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton accepted the nomination for president in the upcoming election in November. Shortly afterwards, she was joined onstage by her husband and former President of the United States Bill Clinton, her running mate Tim Kaine and several staffers, at which point around 100,000 red, blue and white balloons were released from the ceiling of the venue to celebrate the conclusion of the convention.
Trump's NAMBLA Donation Hoax
On July 29th, 2016, Redditor RIPrince submitted an article titled “Trump Suggests Nothing Will Prompt Him to Release Tax Returns” to the /r/politics subreddit. In the comments section, another Redditor speculated that Trump was keeping his tax return private to prevent the discovery that he donated to NAMBLA. In the coming days, the rumor proliferated across social media platforms as a way to mock Trump’s habitual use of the phrase “many people are saying” when citing unfounded claims and far-fetched conjectures in his campaign speeches.
On August 2nd, 2016, the Donald Maroney Tumblr blog was launched, featuring photographs of Trump captioned with tactless quotes uttered by the character Jenna Maroney (played by Jane Krakowski) in episodes of the television sitcom 30 Rock (shown below).
Trump's "Second Amendment People" Joke
On August 9th, 2016, Donald Trump gave a speech in Wilmington, North Carolina where he tried to drum up support by insinuating that Hillary Clinton would abolish the Second Amendment that states Americans have the right to bear arms. While talking about the possibility of Hillary getting to put anti-gun judges on the Supreme Court, Trump suggested that "Second Amendment" people could prevent it from happening.
"Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment, and by the way, and if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks…Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I dunno."
Following the speech, many online accused Trump of suggesting that gun enthusiasts assassinate Clinton if she became president, while the Trump campaign claimed he only meant for gun owners to vote against Clinton to prevent her from winning the election.
On August 8th, 2016, Trump posted a tweet that claiming that “many people are saying” Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri was executed due to “Clinton’s hacked emails." That evening, the hashtag #ManyPeopleAreSaying began trending worldwide on the social networking platform, with tweets containing various jokes and conspiracy theories about the Republican presidential candidate (shown below).
Seth Rich's Death
On July 10th, 2016, Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich was shot and killed while walking home at approximately 4:20 A.M. on a residential street in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington D.C. During a press conference the following day, Metropolitan Police Department Captain Anthony Haythe announced that police discovered Rich conscious and breathing at the scene after being shot several times, though he fatally succumbed to the wounds after being transported to a nearby hospital. Due to the timing of his death, many conspiracy theories circulated online speculating that Rich had been killed for being the anonymous source behind the 2016 DNC Email Leak, though no evidence linking the shooting has surfaced.
Donald Trump's White Sign
On August 11th, 2016, Donald Trump delivered a speech at the National Association of Home Buildings, where he held up a large white graph showing a sharp decline in home ownership in the United States. That day, the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign’s deputy digital communications director Rob Flaherty posted a screen capture of Trump holding a blank version of the graph with the instructions “go to town, folks," leading others to create various photoshops using the template (shown below).
On Wednesday, August 17th, 2016, Cohen appeared on CNN’s The Situation Room to address a recent shakeup in the Trump campaign staff. Host Brianna Keilar observed “You guys are down,” to which Cohen interrupted, “Says who?” Keilar responded “Polls. Most of them. All of them?” After a long pause, Cohen repeated, "Says who?" Following the broadcast of the interview, many mocked Cohen's appearance on social media.
On September 1st, 2016, Gutierrez appeared on MSNBCs All In with Chris Hayes to discuss Trump’s comments made during an immigration speech on August 31st, 2016. While discussing “problems” faced by America, correspondent Joy Ann Reid pushed Gutierrez to clarify “What problems?” Gutierrez responded that his "culture" was very "dominant," and might lead to "taco trucks on every corner." Online, many mocked the comments on social media along with the hashtag "#TacoTrucksOnEveryCorner".
In early September, critics of Clinton launched the hashtag #HackingHillary to mock her frequent coughing fits, which many have speculated are signs of the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate’s failing health.
Clinton's Basket of Deplorables Gaffe
On September 8th, 2016, Clinton was interviewed on the Israeli television, where she said that Trump supporters are in “two big baskets,” one of which contains "deplorables" who consist of “racists” and “haters." The following evening, Clinton made a similar statement while speaking at a private fundraiser, where she said “you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call ‘the basket of deplorables’." On September 10th, Donald Trump Jr. posted a photoshopped movie poster on Instagram of the 2010 action film The Expendables, featuring various prominent conservatives and Pepe the Frog with the title “The Deplorables” (shown below).
In the coming days, several news sites identified Pepe as a "symbol of white nationalism," leading the official Hillary Clinton campaign blog to publish an "explainer" accusing Trump Jr. of posting a "symbol associated with white supremacy."
Body Double Conspiracy Theory
On September 11th, 2016, Clinton attended a memorial ceremony in honor of those who perished in the September 11th, 2001 attacks, where she abruptly left claiming she felt "overheated." While waiting for her vehicle, Clinton appeared as if she were about to collapse before aides helped her into the van (shown below, left). After the incident, Clinton visited her daughter Chelsea's Manhattan apartment, where she emerged hours later and was filmed by reporters (shown below, right).
That day, some conspiracy theorists on social media began speculating that a body double was posing as the presidential candidate after the incident, along with the hashtag #HillarysBodyDouble (shown below). Additionally, many argued that Hillary Clinton impersonator Teresa Barnwell was performing the body double role.
Bowl of Skittles Meme Controversy
On September 19th, 2016, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a photograph of a bowl of skittles with the caption “If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? / That’s our Syrian refugee problem." Immediately after, Trump was widely criticized for posting the image, with many accusing him of promoting Islamophobia.
There are a total of four nationally broadcast debates scheduled for the general election between September and October, including one debate involving vice-presidential nominees.
On September 26th, the first round of the debates began at 9:00 p.m. (EST). In the hours leading up to the start, several debate-related hashtags began trending on various social media platforms, including #DebateNight on Twitter and #Debates2016 on Facebook.
- The nearly two-hour long debate was marked by a series of increasingly confrontational moments from both sides, with Clinton taking a full front attack on Trump's lack of transparency in disclosing his personal finances and tax returns, as well as his controversies involving sexism, race and business practices, while Trump retaliated by criticizing her role in the enlargement of ISIS and e-mail scandal while serving as Secretary of State under the Obama administration.
- Some of the more noteworthy moments from Trump included his frequent sniffles, which prompted tongue-in-cheek rumors and jokes about his health condition in reference to #HackingHillary, his description of the DNC hacker as someone sitting on his bed who weighs 400 pounds, which also led to several jokes from hacktivist circles on Twitter, including a response from @YourAnonNews. Meanwhile, a variety of Clinton's baffled facial reactions to Trump's remark during the debate also went viral on Twitter, including a comparison to Jim Halpert from the American TV sitcom The Office.
Correct the Record
Correct the Record (CTR) is an independent-expenditure only committee, also known as a Super PAC, which maintains a large presence on social media to promote and defend the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. While other Super PACs are prohibited by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) from coordinating directly with campaigns or political parties, CTR is able to work closely with the Clinton campaign due to its exclusive use of various social media in its operations. Online, the organization has been scrutinized for paying people to defend Clinton in various online discussions, a practice many have denounced as an example of “astroturfing.”
Nimble America is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The organization has been widely denounced by Trump supporters on the /r/The_Donald subreddit, where many speculated that the organization is a scam and criticized its initiatives as astroturfing.
On November 8th, 2016, the General Election went underway in polling stations across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Gary Johnson being listed on the ballot in all 50 states and Washington D.C., while Jill Stein was listed on the ballot in 44 states and Washington D.C. In addition, 24 other third party and independent candidates were listed on the ballot in select states.
Despite most forecasts and projections based on exit poll data that generally favored Hillary Clinton's victory in the election, Donald Trump quickly negated many pollsters' and experts' expectations by claiming victory in eight of the eleven swing states, namely Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. By the eleventh hour of the election day, Trump continued to widen his lead in delegate count through his victory after another across the midwest t-states.
At 3:00 a.m. (EST) on November 9th, Donald Trump secured over 270 electoral votes, or the majority of the 538 electors in the electoral college, effectively becoming the president-elect of the United States. In contrast, Hillary Clinton had managed to secure 218 delegates, a number that is far below the projections put forth by most leading public opinion polls. Trump, along with his vice-presidential running mate Mike Pence, will take office as the 45th President on January 20th, 2017.
On November 9th, the hashtag #NotMyPresident became the top trending topic on the social networking site. That day, a Facebook event page titled "Trump is Not My President" was created for a march on Union Square, New York City on November 12th. Within 48 hours, the page gathered more than 12,000 responses as "going" and 29,000 as "interested."